Ireland is Calling You … to Cleveland

Rock n Reel – Cleveland Irish Fest is Coming!

Ireland is Calling You … to Cleveland. The 34th Annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival takes place at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea, Ohio July 22, 23 & 24.

The U.S. has been so generous in welcoming the Irish to this blessed country, and we love paying it forward, in thanks.  Festival proceeds benefit The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Holy Family Home and ten other local and national charities.  Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival has donated more than $770,000 dollars to charities since its inception in 1983.  

Live More Life; Be More Irish ~ Thirty-one bands, dancers and performers on three indoor and five outdoors stages will fill 117 acres, with entertainers from Ireland, Canada and across the U.S. highlighting the rich and varied Irish heritage.

The festival offers a wide range of music from traditional to Celtic Rock.  Rock-n-Reel Headliners include Ronan Tynan, of the Irish Tenors; Scythian; Ennis Sisters, The Fitzgerald’s, like Riverdance, only faster! One Shot Paddy; Hedgeband; Derek Warfield & the Young Wolfe Tones; and Socks in the Frying Pan.

In a Festival first – Celtic Rockers Seven Nations with “KIR”, featuring a full Pipe Band; Returning favorites include Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, Ashley Davis, Marys Lane, Irish Descendants, Patrick O’Sullivan, Dermot Henry and Marys Lane.

Bring your dancing shoes, your energy, and your friends. Live More Life; Be More Irish, and dance like no one is watching.

The New Barleycorn, Brigid’s Cross, James Kilbane, Dennis Doyle, and The Kilroys will also be performing. Irish dance Schools Brady Campbell School, Tesse Burke School and Leneghan Academy join the 87th Cleveland Pipe Band, Firefighter’s Memorial Pipe Band, and West Side Irish American Club Pipe Band. “Things will happen!” as Barleycorn’s Alec DeGabriel always says!

Presenting the very best of Ireland doesn’t stop with the music.  The festival showcases championship dancing and pipe bands, and award-winning drama. Authentic Irish food vendors include Claddagh Irish Pubs, Sully’s Irish Pub, the Irish Coffee House and Winston’s Import Catering, and plentiful American fare for kids and adults alike is also available.

Things New to the festival this year include Online Admission tickets and weekend passes, Friday and Saturday Whiskey and Beer Tastings; craft beers; Online Merchandise sales; and so much more.

Expanded at the Festival this year is Temple Bar & Museum – Modeled after the world famous entertainment district in Dublin city centre, our Temple Bar & Museum has loads of singing, dancing, sessions, carrying on, lessons, workshops and exhibits. Walk thru our beautiful hand painted Irish village storefronts to Temple Bar, have a pint of our new craft beers, a traditional Guinness, Harp or Smithwicks, or a pop, have a listen or share a song, a story, or a set dance lesson; you’ll find all the tradition of an Irish pub in our Temple Bar & Museum.  There are over 50 Irish vendors with everything from Aran knits to delicious Irish chocolate, T-Shirts, Jewelry, music and that special gift, calling you home.


How Do You Celebrate St. Pat’s?

Editor’s Corner

How do you celebrate? I start out with my family, and my extended loving family, the West Side Irish American Club, with the annual mass at St. Colman’s, whose gorgeous marble, and design, commissioned to Irish men in Dublin, I appreciate more and more each year; I may be daydreaming, but ghosts seep out of the marble for me. Then it is off to this year’s 149th Annual Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I walk with the Sheriff’s Dept. at the front of the parade, then circle around and march with the WSIA family, again.

I absolutely love it. The massive crowds are awesome to see, a culture like no other, one that invites all cultures to join us as we celebrate roots, family, and a passionate heritage that touches every curve and corner of the globe, through our own hard work, perseverance, and passion for freedom, in so many forms.

After walking the parade, we walk to a local hotel, and eat, drink and make merry, as outside our walls, downtown clears out. A few other parties and must go to appearances fill out the day, until we all reassemble at the Folks, for dinner, stories and as many cups of tea as your nerves can handle.

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish is my personal social media tag line and has been my credo for as long as I can remember; it is a life urgency instilled by my father, to make a difference as you trade each day of your life, for something; let it be worthwhile. You can find that same credo throughout the Irish community; it translates to any culture. Be aware, be awed and be grateful.

There is much to do this month; of course musical and event lists and labels run rampant in this issue. Deliberate, and then deliberately, pick your passion; pick your company, and Live More Life, as the Irish are wont to do.

We would love to hear and share how you celebrate – send me a note ( or post on our FB page. Pics are welcome, as long as you own them. Follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages listed below and Opt-in to our Cleveland Irish Fest ( and Ohio Irish American News ( occasionally and respectfully sent and guarded email list, and win prizes like fest tickets, an annual OhIAN subscription, books or CD’s. We will run favorites in our April issue; share your memories, share your milestones, share all that being Irish, means to you.


Go dtí an mhí seo chugainn, slán a fhágáil
(Until next month, goodbye)


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The 2016 Lyrics of Irish Freedom: Notes of Turbulent Times Book Tour is about to begin, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day and the 100th Commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising (Ireland’s American Revolution). Don’t Miss it.

Book Tour

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Get your signed copy @ one of these to date scheduled book tour stops, or

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Get yours at; I’d be honored to sign it for you.

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Happy New Year, and Happy Anniversary too!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I’d also like to add, Happy Anniversary – to all our Ohio Irish American News writers, advertisers, distributors and supporters – we are 9 years old; we are very blessed to know you, and to have your active support. We continue to learn, to grow and to get better, thanks to your feedback.



As always, there is much going on in and around Ohio. Every month ads and the Out & About Ohio section are filled with what’s to come; so save the date, share the wealth and plan accordingly to not miss the best the Irish have to offer each other, and our friends.



It gives us great joy to share the wealth of our heritage, past present and to come. Seeding others bears so much fruit; just as it has for generations of ground breakers, immigrants, sponsors and saviors, who then sent those proceeds back and forward, to ease the road for the next one on it. We aim to have the same impact. In 2015, our budget for helping those in need was $10,000; we blew by that in June, and will end up being nearly double it for the year. To whom much is given …



Irish Network Cleveland, the Irish Chamber of Commerce in Cleveland, has launched; Music Box Cleveland Sundays are back, The Cleveland International Film Festival; Northern Ohio Rose of Tralee, and RISE Foundation events are fast approaching; Primary elections are March 15th, with many Judicial races impacting our communities; The 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising is fast approaching; Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival and many more events are this month, next, or deep into planning. I know they would welcome your support, and your help; they are asking, if you are looking for that chance to make a difference, and have fun.

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It is 3 Days Until Christmas …

It is 3 Days until Christmas …

Being Irish and being Catholic, three has a significant presence on my life.  A symbol of Ireland oft used is a shamrock, which has three leaves.  It is very prevalent in Ireland, but rare here, and considered lucky because of its rarity. The shamrock is not to be confused with the clover, which has four leaves (I’m looking over, a four leaf clover, that I’ve over looked before…”) and is everywhere here, like a weed – oh wait ….

Shamrock vs clover

In the song, the 12 Days of Christmas*, 3 is 3 French Hens, which symbolize Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues.

Faith, Hope and Charity; like many immigrant nations who forge a new home, my family had no relatives in the U.S. while I was growing up.  My dad, from Co. Roscommon, Ireland, and my mom, from Montreal, Canada, faced uncertainty, and filled with great dreams, risked much when they came here.  Those who became our friends WERE our family – they adopted us, nurtured us, became our family and so much more. In many ways, you can’t choose your family; in many ways we did. But Faith, Hope and Charity blessed us, again.

Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to illustrate the three entities of God ~ The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, when converting pagan Ireland to Catholicism.  Each leaf, and each aspect of God, is recognizable on its own, but inseparable from the whole, very much like Christ, celebration, and Christmas.

This year will be our 34th Annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival.  The planning and booking is well under way, the grunt work has not yet begun.  I am excited about what, and who, is coming, but dread the havoc the physical work will wreak on my joints. I steel myself to it, and bow my head; by the grace of God, I get through that week each year.  I have 34 years of practice. To Date, we have Scythian, Ronan Tynan, The Fitzgerald’s, Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, Socks in the Frying Pan, Garry Gormley, Irish Descendants, Young Wolfe Tones, New Barleycorn, Brigid’s Cross, Marys Lane, Dermot Henry, Ashley Davis, Dennis Doyle and The Kilroys, with a throw out the the young wans, The Spazmatics. With that lineup, I hope you can see why I am excited; there is still much to come and slots to fill.

Temple Bar & Museum was a big hit last year, and will be expanded again this year.  We have moved forward from a one-year focus, to a longer term one; The Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising is on our minds as well.  If you’d like to get involved, we’d love to have you. Social Media, planning, entertainment and hospitality is in need of your help, just call out my name (

Ireland and America are so heavily intertwined.  Many in Ireland are surprised when they see the fervor of Americans for Ireland. Festivals not only allow our music and culture to reach so many, they employ all the music makers: performers, sound men, vendors of food and merchandise, grounds rental and a myriad of direct and indirect saints and sinners. At many festival’s, you will see a t-shirt that says, “If you are lucky enough to be Irish, you are lucky enough”. #truth #LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish

Being Irish is a shamrock of faith, family and friends – each with their own identity and characteristics, but each an inseparable part of being Irish in America. Each, alone and together, a very, very, very lucky legacy of life, love and liberty.  My country, my heritage is tattooed across my back, and in my heart.

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It is 4 Days Until Christmas …

It is 4 Days Until Christmas ~ Four Green Fields … Tommy Makem wrote more than 400 songs, the anthem, Four Green Fields, of course, as well as Gentle Annie, Winds of Morning, The Winds Are Singing Freedom and so many other iconic songs, songs that are sung where ever the Irish gather around the world. I grew up with them, I fell in love with them; They are the stories of our people.

Tommy Makem

Our stories define us; the Irish culture is such a story-driven one, with an oral tradition passed on generation to generation.  We pass the stories on so our roots, our history, our very identity stays vibrant and alive – it is our connection to our past, AND our present.

makem proc

In these writings of Christmas, all my writings, my story is not the only one I am trying to tell.  Tommy wrote Four Green Fields one day while driving down to Newry, in the Co. Down.  It was 1967.  He saw a woman coming down from the fields with the cows, to cross the road.  They were both stopped at a British checkpoint.  Tommy watched her as he, and she, waited to go thru.  He could see the, Hassle, as the woman just wanted to get on across the road, to get on with her life. He wrote the first two verses then, and the final one later, when he got to Newry.

The Four Green Fields symbolically refer to the 4 Provinces of Ireland: Leinster, Munster, Ulster & Connaught, which hold the 32 counties, closest to our States, here in the U.S.  The “fine, old woman” represents Ireland herself.

What did I have? said the fine old woman
What did I have? this proud old woman did say
I had four green fields, each one was a jewel
But strangers came and tried to take them from me
I had fine strong sons, they fought to save my jewels
They fought and died, and that was my grief, said she

Long time ago, said the fine old woman
Long time ago, this proud old woman did say
There was war and death, plundering and pillage
My children starved by mountain valley and sea
And their wailing cries, they shook the very heavens
My four green fields ran red with their blood, said she

What have I now? said the fine old woman
What have I now? this proud old woman did say
I have four green fields, one of them’s in bondage
In stranger’s hands, that tried to take it from me
But my sons have sons, as brave as were their fathers
And my four green fields, will bloom once again, said she
Yes my four green Field, will bloom once again, said she.

In this time of birth, and rebirth, the beginning of new eras and new days, that dream of one country is not over.  One Ireland is closer now than it has been in more than 800 years.

“Do not worry if you have built castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them”.
– Henry David Thoreau

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It is 15 Days Until Christmas …

It is 15 Days until Christmas …

Two weeks from tomorrow!  Can you believe it has come so fast?  I was just being thankful for our service men and women, for the men and women in blue too, at the Greater Cleveland Peace Officer’s Memorial, it seems, right before Memorial Day. A glorious sun filled summer, too short as always but more glorious for the warmth it gave, flashed by.  Dunno WHAT happened to September and October.  Then it slowed down for a second, as Thanksgiving reminders of just how blessed we are got their usual filters knocked off and said “LOOK” to those willing to breathe the free air.

Now I am bundled up and ready for battle in small businesses and craft shows; I prefer a peaceful Friday over a Black one. I spent my currency well; completing 4th book.  “The Lyrics of Irish Freedom”, is centered on the music of Irelands rebellions and Troubles, all the songs I grew up singing, who wrote them, why they wrote them, what was going on at the time, as we near the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising.  Remember, Ireland’s rich oral tradition was prolonged and oral history propagated because their was no radio, no TV.  The book comes out Friday, January 1st.

LyricFreedom hires The Cover!

LyricFreedom backcov Back Cover

The Bards were the teachers; historians chronicling the misery and the mission, for a free Ireland.  The 100th Commemoration of the most seminal time and events in Irish history reverberates across the world to the millions of Irish descent, who crossed oceans, built canals and signed a new lease on life, where ever the waters took them. Those in Ireland are figuring out their celebration too, tho it seems a little slower and with a little more rebellion. The book is timed for summer, to kindle learning what we all have seen in small sparks.  Let there be bonfires.

I’m Heavy When Wet
by John O’Brien, Jr.

I love a White Christmas, families gathering and warm smells
How carolers voices, could charm the hinges of cold hearts loose from the gates of hell
Evergreen garland and the lighthouse of the white lights
children’s laughter peeling, and a moratorium on fights (HAha)
Empty trees will turn from scary, frightening on Hallow’s Eve
to breathtaking beauty, covered by a snowstorm’s canvas weave
Won’t be long now; I’ve prepped the hot tub and put away the hoses
winterized the grass and covered up the roses
Lawn furniture put away, taking the shelf space of tree, bells and candles
warm winter boots, when my gnarled feet prefer sandals.
Yet there’s new excitement in little eyes, as Santa’s checking his lists
the love they freely show me, make me gasp and eyes mist
They warm my whole winter, so unexpected, so affirming;
so to wallow in pains embrace, leaves my subconscious squirming.
A Season of gratefulness, another gathering of Thanksgiving
– without it dear friends, life just isn’t worth living.
I too am sustained by faith, urgency in making the world a better place
days with hands of leather, days with hands of lace
For so much I am unworthy, yet God makes no mistakes
I am heavy when wet.

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It is 16 Days Until Christmas …

It is 16 Days until Christmas …

Do something joyful. Sometimes my posts, in looking back, seem mournful – it is not meant to be. Each stands alone, yet patterns may suggest, and be absolutely wrong. I am blessed, and I know it, better off than most. I have seen the desolation of a missing child, a murdered spouse, an abused loved one.


If you own just one Bible, you are abundantly blessed,
1/3 of the world does not have access to even one.
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness,
You are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment,
the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation,
You are ahead of 500 million people around the world.
If you attend  a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest or torture of death, you are more blessed than almost three billion people in the world.
If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back,
a roof over your head and a place to sleep. you are richer than 75% of the world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace,
You are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.
If your parents are still married and alive, you are very rare,
even in the United States.
If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them, or even touch them on the shoulder,
you are blessed because you can offer God’s healing touch.
If you prayed yesterday or today, you are in the minority
because you believe in God’s willingness to hear and answer prayers.
If you believe in Jesus as the son of God, you are part of a very small minority in the world.
If you can read this message, you are more blessed
than over two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.
if you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful,
you are truly blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

It is 16 days until Christmas ~ John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

When we were kids, we used to see that, John 3:16, on hand-made signs held high at sporting events. You don’t see it quite as often anymore, tho once in a while. The signs were often shown between the goalposts as a field goal or point after were being kicked – I always raised my eyes at the subliminal message – “here’s the goal (of the game, of life), hit it and win.”

Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we miss, but we always are striving to achieve the goal, to succeed in the gift called life, which is to have lived a life worthwhile. We don’t fail when we miss; we fail when we don’t get up after missing, when we don’t try again. The reward is three points, or the trinity of Father, son and Holy Spirit.

I remember going thru the pain management program at the Cleveland clinic, and how so much of pain management is not actually physical healing, but mental healing and acceptance. There was a woman in the program whose daughter had been killed by a drunk driver, middle of the day, an otherwise innocuous day, and she was so lost in pain, and anger. “Why did it have to happen, what could have been done to alter life by one second, one city block, so my beautiful daughter would still be here today?” She was so angry at God, at the world. How could God let this happen?

There is no real human solace or explanation for that kind of pain ~ God allowed His own son to be tortured, crucified, murdered, so that we would have a chance at eternal life. We don’t understand the route we must take to understanding. When we think how frustrating and hard life can be, when we get bogged down in, “If life were JUST a little bit easier, wouldn’t we be more loving, more nurturing, if we weren’t so tired from fighting?” We lose sight of the forest for the trees. Life is not meant to be easy or full of laughter – human life is practice, for eternal life.

“Your ways are not my ways.” When we try to put our thought processes, our ways, our hurts, to the thought processes or ways of God, we are trying to put the thoughts and ways of humans, TO GOD. That is incompatible. That is like trying to put the ways of a Christian to the ways of a Muslim, or the ways of a rich man to the ways of a poor one; there may be similarities, there may be commonalities, but they are different worlds, levels so far apart as the only link to be found, is faith.

I could not heal her hurt; I could not shed light on why; I could not explain specifically what was gained by her daughter’s death or how a loving God would allow such pain. My faith, and utter understanding that I am to small to understand, gets me through those deepest, darkest desolations that challenge me, each of us, as we try to do the best we can. We try to be men for others, in our journey to a better life. We can’t find answers but we can’t stop trying to find answers, to why, to how, to everlasting life.

Beannachtaí na Nollaig ~ Blessings of Christmas

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New Day LXXXIV: Happy Happy Easter

New Day LXXXIV: Happy Happy Easter

I don’t want to write today. Therapeutic effects aside, I strive to lift, not whine. I am burned out physically, and mentally tired of giving so much of my energy, my strength, my day and my life to fighting this pain. I am in my 6th week of Orencia shots, my 10th of Leuflunomide. I can use my left wrist again, can sleep more than 3 hours a night. I am hopeful I have left the valley. In survival mode, I have developed a deep love for the little things in life that I can do: walk when it is warm, improve as a photographer, work with friends to drive all the new things and new excitement coming to Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival, start and sustain Irish Language Cleveland classes, work a full time job at the Sheriff’s, a near full time as Publisher and Editor of the Ohio Irish American News. 9 years ago, I couldn’t work at all. Then the Sheriff’s job and the Ohio Irish American News launched at the same time. I will remain positive and cognizant of all the enriching things I do have, including you, appreciate how blessed I am despite a life redirected … and write another day.

I am a practicing Catholic. It is the only thing that has kept me alive. At Good Friday service, they handed out rusty nails to everyone, and then at Offertory, we walked up and put them in a basket, symbolizing giving all our failures to God. We then left th sanctuary in silence. Come, let us find mercy in His love. I wish you and yours a very Happy Easter; may you be blessed as you see the births and rebirths of love, life and faith in the lessons of this season.

100th Anniversary 1916 Easter Rising
100th Anniversary 1916 Easter Rising



Comments on the blog itself, Likes and especially comments on Facebook, retweets and Favs on Twitter, all help share my writing and bring me to rippling audiences awareness. Reaching audience is the lifeblood of any writer. I greatly appreciate any help in that. Please share if you think I have earned it.

I write about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on; Be Happy, it is one way of being wise. Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you.
You can read all my blogs at:

Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know:

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New Day LXXIV: The Last First Generation

New Day LXXIV: The Last First Generation

America is still an immigrant nation – I read a lot about the Irish American experience, and see stark similarities between the Irish and other immigrant Italian, Croatian, Polish, Hispanic and other cultures. Faith based, family centric, pick yourself up by the bootstraps, make your way, then reach a hand down and help another do the same – the power of multitudes and passionate belief in paying it forward.

For the Irish in Cleveland, they went to the West Side Irish American Club first. It was where you went to begin the search for success: for a job, an apartment, to find friends and a spouse.

They are not coming any more; this is a first – the first time there will no longer be significant numbers of 1st Generation Irish in Cleveland; my generation is the last First. All of the Irish based organizations I am involved with are aware of it, lament it, are slow to respond to it, why? Because we don’t know how; it has never happened before.

Festivals and fairs, dance and Irish music schools and bands and Irish related businesses, feel the vacuum of replenishing Irish born blood in Cleveland; the volunteerism and active, physical support that birthed, nurtured, grew Irish owned businesses and providers, and provided the backbone of the community, and the city. No one knows how to fix it, because it has never happened before: not in 400+ years of the Irish coming to America post Columbus; not since St. Brendan the Navigator first arrived in a currach in America in the 5th Century, 1000 years before Chris.

Irish Network Cleveland, the newly incorporated Cleveland Irish Business Chamber of Commerce, will debur some sharp edges for those looking for a job or a friend; the rebirth of Cleveland has opened so many eyes once again, to all that Cleveland has to offer; and the focus of This is Cleveland has returned to its roots, opening doors and dialogues with people and entities that want to come here. PEL Manufacturing is an Ireland based business that opened its US Headquarters in Cleveland early this year. The crack in the dam starts with one drop.

Don’t cry wolf, cry the great Craic in Cleveland, as awareness of an issue creates that first drop. My father and mother are immigrants, shall I not offer my hand to the next generation?

Comments on the blog itself, Likes and especially comments on Facebook, retweets and Favs on Twitter, all help share my writing and bring me to rippling audiences awareness. Reaching audience is the lifeblood of any writer. I greatly appreciate any help in that. Please share if you think I have earned it.

I write about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on; Be Happy, it is one way of being wise. Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you.

You can read all my blogs at:

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know:

O’Bent Enterprises includes:
Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites